In his chapter on Lurianic Kabbalah in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Scholem refers to a Midrashic source that Luria creatively re-reads to ground the mystical concept of tzimtzum. The bibliography tells me that the Midrash in question is the discussion of Exodus 25.10 in Exodus Rabbah. I can't search for the index of a source text on Sefaria, however, so I'm struggling to locate it. Does anyone know where exactly this verse comes up in Exodus Rabbah?

I would think it'd be pretty well known given its famous Kabbalistic re-imagining. Scholem's synopsis, for reference, is: "The Midrash occasionally refers to God as having concentrated his divine presence, in the holiest of holies, at the place of the Cherubim, as though His whole power were concentrated and contracted in a single point" (260).

  • Could you be referring to this in Bamidbar Rabbah 12:8 where it relates different parts of the Mishkan - sefaria.org/… and writes; "אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה אִם אַתְּ עוֹשֶׂה מַה שֶּׁלְּמַעְלָה לְמַטָּה, אֲנִי מֵנִיחַ סַנְקְלִיטוֹן שֶׁלִּי שֶׁל מַעְלָה וְאֵרֵד וַאֲצַמְצֵם שְׁכִינָתִי בֵּינֵיהֶם לְמַטָּה"
    – Dov
    Mar 18, 2021 at 13:16
  • (hebrewbooks.org/…)
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 18, 2021 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


I think it's Shemot Rabba 34:1:https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.25.10?lang=en&with=Shemot%20Rabbah&lang2=he

אָמַר משֶׁה (תהלים צא, א): ישֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר עֶלְיוֹן, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר רַבִּי סִימוֹן יוֹשֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר הוּא עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל בְּרִיּוֹתָיו, מַהוּ (תהלים צא, צ): בְּצֵל שַׁדַּי, בְּצֵל אֵל, בְּצֵל רַחוּם, בְּצֵל חַנּוּן, אֵין כְּתִיב כָּאן, אֶלָּא בְּצֵל שַׁדַּי, בְּצֵל שֶׁעָשָׂה בְּצַלְאֵל, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: בְּצֵל שַׁדַּי יִתְלוֹנָן, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאַתָּה סָבוּר כָּךְ אֲנִי סָבוּר, אֶלָּא כ' קֶרֶשׁ בַּצָּפוֹן וְכ' בַּדָּרוֹם וְח' בַּמַעֲרָב, וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵרֵד וַאֲצַמְצֵם שְׁכִינָתִי בְּתוֹךְ אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה.

Therefore Moshe said “He who dwells in the hidden place of the Most High…” (Tehillim 91:1) R’ Yehudah bar R’ Simon said: The One who dwells in the hidden place is above all His creations. What does the continuation “…in the shadow of the Almighty,” mean? In the shadow of Gd (b’tzel el). It is not written as ‘in the shadow of the Merciful’ or ‘in the shadow of the Gracious,’ but rather ‘in the shadow of the Almighty.’ In the shadow which Betzalel made, that is why it says ‘in the shadow of the Almighty’. The Holy One replied to Moshe ‘I do not see things the same way as you do. Rather it says twenty in the north, twenty in the south and eight in the west. Furthermore, I will I will come down and contract my Presence within a space of one cubit by one cubit.’


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